Citing bird, lawsuit targets Trump’s oil and gas lease sales

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Environmental groups are suing the Trump administration for selling oil and gas leases on huge swaths of public lands in the West while allegedly ignoring policies meant to protect an imperiled bird.

The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court seeks to reverse lease sales across 475 square miles in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.

Plaintiffs Western Watersheds Project and Center for Biological Diversity also want to block upcoming sales that cover 1,800 square miles in those four states plus Idaho.

Under former President Barack Obama, the Interior Department in 2015 adopted plans to protect greater sage grouse after the ground-dwelling bird lost much of its habitat due to energy development and other causes.

Trump’s Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, has placed a greater priority on energy development.

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